NASA is offering a behind-the-scenes look Thursday, Aug. 18, at its Journey to Mars, including the test of a rocket engine that will launch the agency to the Red Planet, with live coverage on social media, NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The day’s events begin at 9:30 a.m. EDT from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, where the agency’s social media followers will have a conversation with NASA officials about the numerous efforts enabling exploration of the Red Planet. The public can ask questions during the live broadcast, which will air on NASA TV, using the hashtag #askNASA.

Participants will include:

Todd May, director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama
Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Development at NASA Headquarters in Washington
Richard (Rick) Davis, assistant director for Science and Exploration, Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters
John Vickers, principal technologist for the Space Technology Mission Directorate at Marshall
Katie Boggs, manager for Systems and Technology Demonstration at NASA Headquarters
NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio
NASA then will bring its online audience live views of exhibits at Michoud, where work is underway on the core stage of the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and parts of its Orion spacecraft. The event can be viewed on Periscope at:

The event also will be featured on Snapchat and Instagram stories.

At 1:30 p.m., NASA will host a Facebook Live event showcasing the work and exhibits at Michoud at:

The day will close with the hot fire test of an RS-25 engine at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Four RS-25 engines will power the SLS core stage and carry Orion to deep space destinations. Live NASA TV coverage of the engine test begins at 6 p.m.

The 7.5-minute test is part of a series of tests designed to put the upgraded former space shuttle engines through the rigorous temperature and pressure conditions they will experience during a launch. The tests also support the development of a new controller, or “brain,” for the engine, which monitors engine status and communicates between the rocket and the engine, relaying commands to the engine and transmitting data back to the rocket.

To follow these activities on social media, use #NASAMarsDay.

NASA is on an ambitious Journey to Mars that includes sending humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s. The agency’s robotic spacecraft are leading the way on Mars with two active rovers, three active orbiters, the planned launch of the InSight lander in 2018, and development of the Mars 2020 rover. In 2018, SLS and Orion will launch together for the first time, and be capable of sending humans farther into space than ever before.

For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and scheduling information, visit:

For more information about NASA’s Journey to Mars, visit: